I am approaching what for me is conference season. I attend AERA, NECC and the North Dakota edtech conference (TNT) in the next couple of months. The rest of the year my budget and job keep me at home. I write a few posts while I attend conferences and I read the posts of others some whom attend many conferences. So, in a way, I am a producer and consumer. I know what I like to produce and consume, but I am attempting here to offer a broader perspective which requires that I broaden my comments by pulling in thoughtful posts from others.
Here are the question. Are blog posts and Tweets authored by those who attend a conference helpful? What should those who post keep in mind to make their contributions useful?
AERA is next week and the Twitter chatter has been picking up for weeks (use AERA as a search term in TweetDeck or Nambu). I have also noticed that AERA is a frequently misspelled option for area and as a consequence weird things show up. AERA has not been a major bloggers event. I could not find it as a destination in David Warlich’s hitchhikr. I have always thought that someone ought to pursue the topic of “Why researchers don’t blog”, but we will save that topic for another day.
A comment on Twitter: I do not encourage frequent conference tweets especially from those who think they are live blogging. This is a personal thing, but consistent with what I think I get from Twitter. I can see Twitter as a useful backchannel tool, but just how often would I be in an AERA session with others who Twitter. Perhaps at NECC this might make sense. Sorting out a string of tweets to gain some sense of context and flow is too much of a hassle. Wrong tool. Don’t be lazy – share what you learn via blog posts so there is some flow and continuity.
There are others with other opinions. I tend to focus on information exchange. Others see the social networking advantage of Twitter. As I understand their perspective, a conference represents an opportunity to network with other professionals. Twitter can facilitate connections using the conference or conference events as a point of departure. Twitter offers a second opportunity in the post conference time period to follow up on what seem to be common interests. So, I guess – find new folks to follow and possibly meet to network.
Blog posts from a conference: I have researched the topic of conference blogging previously and there are some classic analyses. Here is a group-based approach from 2006. By group-based, I mean an approach by which a group makes a collaborative effort to offer a thorough review for others. AERA is a little to large for such a commitment. I remember reading a description from 2004 that identified major categories of conference blogging and I was able to still locate it. I like nice categorization systems. My posts typically fall into the reflection category – I pick up an idea for a single presentation and offer a comment both attempting to convey the original message and offer something more. If you really want to take the conference blog on as a serious mission, you might even download a pdf that attempts to organize tips for you to follow.
After making this sound like a serious pursuit that requires preparation, commitment and follow through I am starting to wonder if I have not set myself up to disappoint. I hope not. On the plane for San Diego in the morning. Might as well take advantage of the holiday to take a little time away from the snow and cold in North Dakota. Next week a few posts on research presentations from AERA.